Research Methods paper on Video Transcription in published in the BSA journal Sociology


As part of the ESR funded project Will Gibson, Helena Webb and Dirk vom Lehn have published a paper that explores new ways in which a reflection on the use of transcript in the examination of video-recorded interaction can aid the analysis.

Analytic Affordance: Transcripts as Conventionalised Systems in Discourse Studies


This article explores the role of transcripts in the analysis of social action. Drawing on a study of the interactional processes in optometry consultations, we show how our interest in the rhythm of reading letters from a chart arose serendipitously from our orientation to transcription conventions. We discuss our development of alternative transcription systems, and the affordances of each. We relate this example to constructivist debates in the area of transcription and argue that the issues have been largely characterised in political terms at the expense of a focus on the actual processes of transcription. We show here that analytic affordances emerge through an orientation to professional conventions. The article ends by suggesting that a close reflection on the design of transcripts and on transcription innovation can lead to more nuanced analysis as it puts the researcher in dialogue with the taken for granted ideas embedded in a system.

The article is on Early View at Sociology and with access can be downloaded here.

Posted in U

Just out! Symbolic Interaction, Special Issue on "Interaction"


Symbolic Interaction (2011; Vol.34, No.3/Summer)


Special Issue “Interaction”

     1. Interaction and Symbolic Interactionism(pp. 315-318)  

Dirk vom Lehn, Will Gibson

DOI: 10.1525/si.2011.34.3.315

Stable URL:


can be downloaded here:…



2. Interaction Ritual Theory and Structural Symbolic Interactionism(pp. 319-329) 

Chris Hausmann, Amy Jonason, Erika Summers-Effler

DOI: 10.1525/si.2011.34.3.319

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3. Extending the Symbolic Interactionist Theory of Interaction Processes: A Conceptual Outline(pp. 330-339)  

Jonathan H. Turner

DOI: 10.1525/si.2011.34.3.330

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4. Toward a Theory of Interaction: The Iowa School(pp. 340-348)  

Dan E. Miller

DOI: 10.1525/si.2011.34.3.340

Stable URL:



Symbolic Interactionism and Ethnomethodology(pp. 349-356)  


Alex Dennis

DOI: 10.1525/si.2011.34.3.349


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6. Goffman’s Interaction Order at the Margins: Stigma, Role, and Normalization in the Outreach Encounter(pp. 357-376)  

Robin James Smith

DOI: 10.1525/si.2011.34.3.357

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7. Discrimination and Reaction: The Practical Constitution of Social Exclusion(pp. 377-397)  

Venetia Evergeti

DOI: 10.1525/si.2011.34.3.377

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8. “Scissors, Please”: The Practical Accomplishment of Surgical Work in the Operating Theater(pp. 398-414)  

Jeff Bezemer, Ged Murtagh, Alexandra Cope, Gunther Kress, Roger Kneebone

DOI: 10.1525/si.2011.34.3.398

Stable URL:


Book Review

Examining Interaction Using Video(pp. 415-420)  

René Tuma

Reviewed work(s):

Video in Qualitative Research: Analysing Social Interaction in Everyday Life by Christian Heath; Jon Hindmarsh; Paul Luff

DOI: 10.1525/si.2011.34.3.415

Stable URL:


Human-robot interaction at the Computer Lab in Cambridge – visiting Laurel Riek

interaction, Robots, Technology

In Star Trek Next Generation the android Data is on the constant search for techniques that make him more human. His creator, Dr Soong, has made him look human, if a little pale, but what the particular techniques and what the particular rationale of actions are that would make him human, he has to explore and find out by living with human beings.

Yesterday, I spend some time at the Computer Laboratory in Cambridge where a group of scientists conducts research with human-looking robots. I was invited by Dr Laurel Riek – congratulations, Laurel, on passing the viva early in the week! –  to give a short talk and then have a look at the humanoid robots she has been working with over the past few years.

The robots are realistic looking busts that are equipped with a complex system of motors underneath their skulls. They have been created by a US-American company called Hanson Robotics.

Laurel used Charles and other robots of a similar kind for her research on natural human-robot interaction. Drawing on the growing body of studies concerned with social interaction, including gesture studies, the study of emotion and such like, she strives to improve the communication techniques of robots in order to enable their use in interaction with humans, in particular people in need of help, such as the elderly and disabled people.

Whilst in Star Trek Data discovers the human world by interacting within it, I found in my short encounter with Charles that human-robot interaction may provide us with resources to learn about ourselves and our actions. I think this is something Laurel is working towards when confronting people in healthcare settings with humanoid robots. Thereby, Laurel addresses current debates about how to improve the lives of those living alone or in care homes by deploying robots as companions or at least as other beings they can talk to and interact with.

Publications by Laurel Riek can be found here:

I found her paper “Cooperative Gestures: Effective Signaling for Humanoid Robots” very interesting but the papers on emotional displays in human-android interaction, I suppose, are where Laurel’s interest lies these days.